It’s almost here! Wednesday, July 24th is International Self-Care Day which is designed to raise awareness for healthy lifestyles! At SHiFT, we’ve been doing this for over a quarter of a century. In addition to a healthy eating plan, self-care involves many other things. For example, taking time for meditation, prayer, self-reflection or journaling are all important parts of self-care as are regular exercise, fun, recreation, hobbies and relaxation.
For many addicts, it’s much easier to do something, anything, instead of sitting quietly or relaxing. Active in addiction, the mental obsession with food, tricks food addicts into believing that they are always busy. In many cases, this is true and becomes comfortable even in recovery. A lot of activity goes into maintaining an addiction – finding, getting, paying for, and preparing food – yet these activities have destructive, unhealthy consequences.
In recovery, it’s important to learn new self-care behaviors that don’t involve food or eating. This Wednesday, why not schedule half an hour to do something special for yourself? Sit by the water, read a fun book or magazine, get a massage, give yourself a spa treatment, or find a quiet spot in the park to enjoy nature. You deserve to take care of yourself. Enjoy the day!
It’s summer! For food addicts, changes in weather sometimes mean eating certain foods that are “seasonal” and many times unhealthy or addictive. It’s important not to let your guard down when thoughts of “seasonal foods” come into your mind. Many food addicts use the changing seasons as an excuse to overeat, telling themselves that this food is only available or tasty during this small window of time. Ideas such as this are simply an excuse to binge. Long-term recovery from food addiction is based on daily actions that turn minutes into hours and days into weeks and months into years. There is no “seasonal food” that is worth risking the clarity and gifts that abstinence provides. Sometimes “seasonal foods” can seem harmless, even healthy, but if you can’t stop eating them, they are still binge foods and need to be avoided. Be on the lookout for thoughts of “seasonal foods” and do your best to replace them with visions about the gifts abstinence provides.
I was in trouble and I knew I needed help. It had been a long day at work and it was going to be an even longer drive home. Traffic was terrible and it was raining. My disease told me that my planned eating would help. I stopped at my planned binge store and bought the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie and coffee with cream I had been obsessed with all day. I was in the food, but I thought I was in control this time. I would stop after this …but how did I get here? The rain was pouring, and it was late. I found myself driving across a strange bridge and I suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was. I told myself it was fine but I knew deep down that I was lost in a food fog. I had no recollection of how I got on the bridge and it was not the way home at all. I was so confused.
I was now in full-blown relapse. I could not stop eating. I knew that if I did not get help immediately I would weigh 300 lbs. I was desperate and this time I knew I needed professional help. I wanted to attend a SHiFT event. I had never been but I had learned about SHiFT from my recovery community. I never thought that I needed ‘that’ kind of help. I could do it myself. I knew this time I could not. I was beaten. I called SHiFT earlier in the day and as I drove, ate and cried I was expecting a phone call from Phil. The phone rang and as I answered I prayed that he could not hear the cellophane wrapper of my Little Debbie. We spoke for several minutes. I could not believe that the owner of this place was actually calling me and talking to me like a human being. Much less a human being that understood the pure hell I was living. I felt relief and hope. I made arrangements to attend the 3 Day workshop and I cried the whole way home – a mix of relief and desperation.
The next days were a blur. I remember lots of fear, anger tears and my last binge. Just one more – my disease said. On the drive to the event my binge had grown to two Little Debbies and 2 coffees and cream. I gagged as I drove. I could not get the food down fast enough. I was scared and ashamed as we started the weekend I had no idea what to expect. Phil tenderly and empathetically led our groups. He always gave us everything he could emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I learned that I am not my disease. I learned that I am a charming lovely person whose disease has become enmeshed with my personality. I learned that my feelings and my thoughts are two different entities and that I can feel my feelings and work on myself without the use of extra food.
I am constantly being judged by my disease and Phil taught us so many things. Mostly he taught me compassion and trust. He did this by allowing each member of the group to be met where we were. No one was judged and he did not expect us to be anywhere but where we were. Phil’s unconditional positive regard helped me face the fear and shame I felt. This level of acceptance allowed me to begin my abstinence and journey towards recovery once again.
Phil emphasized that once we truly accept that we are powerless over our disease there is no shame. The hope he instilled in me is that right on the other side of despondency is surrender.
Today I am surrendered. I have 4 months of weighed and measured abstinence and I am so grateful for the beginning that SHiFT allowed me to have with Phil. I never want to forget my confusion, my sad last binge and the pure deprivation that I felt. I want to remember this so that I can learn to give that same unconditional acceptance I learned from Phil to that sad woman inside of me.
I am a food addict – I need love and care – I can go to SHiFT and get what I need. We call can. Deep roots growing.
April P. from Vancouver, BC, Canada attended her first ACORN Intensive (Primary Intensive) earlier this month in Vancouver. She tells us about her experience here. Thank you, April, for sharing your story!
After 3.5 years in a 12-Step fellowship for compulsive eating, I have not experienced a change sufficient enough to achieve and maintain abstinence. In that time, my disease has continued to progress. I have lost all joy in food, and I have lost all control. In my desperation, I surrendered to seeking more structure and support: I signed up for my first ACORN Primary Intensive.
The program ran from March 8-13, 2019, and although six days is a relatively short amount of time to be in treatment, I had no idea that the time spent here would have such a positive impact on my life.
Hi. I’m Emily. I normally would say “and I’m a food addict” as part of this introduction, but sitting here writing this right now as I am laying on my bed…I truly forget if I am or not. I feel scared as I write that statement. Why is this? Well, about two months ago I wrote another article with all of the background information on my disease and I explained very clearly why I am a food addict, click the link to that article: https://foodaddiction.com/how-do-i-know-if-i-am-addicted-emilys-story-10-off-november-27-dec-2-intensive/. But today, I actually am unsure if I am or not. So why is this all relevant? It is the main reason why in a couple of days I am re-entering an ACORN Primary Intensive event. I picked up the food last week. I have been in relapse for about a week and I am in strong denial once again about my disease.
It’s the middle of January and all my resolutions are fresh in my mind however March is just around the corner and for me that often came with the realization that once again I hadn’t followed through on my commitments for the new year….wasn’t 2019 (insert every year here for the last 35 years) supposed to be MY year, wasn’t everything going to change this year, wasn’t I going to lose weight and find the job, the man, the house, the body of my dreams this year? The truth for me is, that NEVER happened…until it DID!!
It was January of 2015 I was morbidly obese, incredibly depressed, hopeless and had no faith that anything would ever really change. I was resigned to being fat and miserable for the rest of my life. Which, as I was only 42, could be a long time, as long as my obesity related health concerns didn’t kill me sooner which was highly probable. (more…)
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